MIAMI BEACH (CBS4) – South Beach has turned in to BCS Central as college football fans from across the country are in town for Monday’s National Championship game.
On Saturday, the Crimson Tide washed ashore Saturday for a pep rally in front of several hundred fans.
But the sea of ‘Bama supporters couldn’t compare to the crush people there to cheer on the Fighting Irish.
“It’s unbelievable I think the entire Notre Dame nation is here,” Nancy Berk said. She was one of several thousand Notre Dame fans that packed the sand for the pep rally under the stars.
The university brought some familiar faces along for the ride, including actor Martin Short and former coach Lou Holtz.
“Having Lou speak to you gets everyone going,” ND Alum John Cocquit said.
Former Notre Dame quarterback Joe Theismann also pumped up the crowd.
“The Notre Dame football team, they could care less whether they’re underdogs or favored by 10, 12,” Theismann said. “It doesn’t matter. What’s really important is they know what the task is at hand on Monday.”
It’s a familiar task for Alabama. Nick Saban’s team has won the National Championship twice in the last 3 years.
“It’s becoming a habit,” Alabama fan David Armstrong joked. “I love being on South Beach. We haven’t missed any of the games in a long time. It’s awesome.”
Not all Alabama fans are as confident.
“Notre Dame, the history is there, so we’ll see what happens Monday,” Jerry Ward said.
“At the end of the day, Alabama is way overconfident,” Niraj Patel said. “Notre Dame is going to win it all.”
The Fighting Irish are undefeated this season.
“First time playing in a long time for a National Championship. So it’s going to be a really good game by both teams and I hope the best team will win,” Ed Mosxal said. He is a professor doing research at Notre Dame.
The big winners so far are South Beach businesses.
Restaurants are packed and hotels are at capacity.
Last time both the Orange Bowl and the BCS Championship game were held in South Florida in the same year, $200 million were generated for the local economy.
Ocean Drive between 5th and 14th Streets will remain closed to vehicle traffic until Monday morning.
Miami Beach Police officers have increased patrols through the weekend.